Author Archives: justifiedandsinner

Do You Understand the Love of God?

clydes-cross-2Devotional Thought of the Day:
19  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Ephesians 3:19 (NLT2)

“‘God loves you’—isn’t that the most well-worn of clichés? It’s just standard filler for the laziest, most obvious and repetitive homilies. Smile. Yawn. Everybody knows that by now, at least everybody who has ever been in a church or read a Bible.
No. Exactly the opposite. It is not familiar. It is shattering. It changes everything. And most Christians do not realize it.”

Right now on Wednesday evenings I am teaching through the Book of Revelation. It is an amazing book of the Bible, but so misunderstood.  Some think it is like a mystery or a riddle that we have to figure out who the characters are. Others think that it is a prophetic calendar, that we have to determine how this is the time it is describing. Who is the beast? What is the mark of the beast? who is this who is that? Is the pandemic a sign there, what about the racial tension?

Amid all the questions, all the theories, all the guess, and hype there are two things the Revelation really does teach us. No, make that three.

1. Jesus is the LORD, He is, along with the Father and Spirit, God who is worshipped, and will be worshipped by all of creation.

2. Jesus is with us in the midst of life. Life may seem broken beyond repair, it may seem oppressed and anxiety-laden by external events, or the effect of sin. Jesus is there to save us.

3. God loves us. Not in a simplistic way that has no effect on us, but in an intimate way, where He cares for us, bringing healing and peace to our brokenness.  This is what the Apostle Paul desires so much that the church experience, for we cannot understand it. It is too deep, too wonderful to be able to describe it.

Those in His presence fall in awe, with all creation they praise Him, thanking Him, in awe of His care.

In the midst of trials, we need to see this, in the midst of isolation, we need to realize He is there, in the midst of being knocked down and shattered by the world, or by our own sin, we need to experience this love of God, and that He is there with each one of us.

God loves you…. He, the Lord, is with You.

Think about that!

and rejoice….

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 11.

June – the time of Job… and Jeremiah

District photoDevotional Thought of the Day:

“Why do you still trust God? Why don’t you curse him and die?”
10 Job replied, “Don’t talk like a fool! If we accept blessings from God, we must accept trouble as well.” In all that happened, Job never once said anything against God.  Job 2:9-10 CEV. 

Give your whole self to God and to His images, your brothers and sisters. Risk. Be crazy. Hold nothing back. Don’t be reasonable. Don’t be an investor. Be a lover.
Tell God right now that this is the one thing you want above all: the gift of loving Him completely. Tell Him you will never let Him go until He blesses you thus. Tell Him that even in eternity you will not let Him go until you are 100 percent love. And then you will never want to let Him go.

“when the creature failed, he flew to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help;”

This week I one of the lectionary readings to preach on what has become, if not a favorite passage, at least a life theme.  No, it’s not the Job reading above.

It might be worse,

Here it is.

7 You tricked me, LORD, and I was really fooled. You are stronger than I am, and you have defeated me. People never stop sneering and insulting me….9 Sometimes I tell myself not to think about you, LORD, or even mention your name. But your message burns in my heart and bones, and I cannot keep silent. Jeremiah 20:7,9 (CEV)

I have to admit there have been times where I have felt this way, seriously felt this way.  Not enough to assent to Job’s wife’s demand, but where situations cause despair and distress that is overwhelming and makes you want to yell at God.

just like Jeremiah did.

Sort of like I wanted Job to do…

Jeremiah did… Job didn’t.

What made Job able to do it?  What made him able to accept the curses as well as the blessings?  What is the difference between these readings that always seem to coincide in my life.

And why can’t I be more like Job?  Why can’t I help others to be more like Job?

Maybe Job was more like Jacob, displaying the attitude Peter Kreeft describes at the end of his best book. (One of the top 5 books in my life, I think – just finishing it, I need to read it again!) May Job understood what Spurgeon described, the need to cry for help… that was so great you couldn’t hold it in… and God listened.

Jeremiah was young… maybe Job had experienced it before.. and knew. he could cry.. and God would be there.

In times like this, I need to hold on, to demand that God can only be free of me when he helps me love Him, and those who bear His image, completely.  Nothing else need matter except that, and truly, that is what I need to hold on to, to the fact that God can change us, and will complete that work.

I just need to hold on, to trust, to demand the blessing of being transformed into the image of the One who loved that purely.  (That probably means I need to pray for the strength to do that as well. That I can do it year-round, not just in my annual encounter with Job and Jeremiah…)

I am pretty sure you need this as well, so let’s pray for each other, let’s beg God on each other’s behalf…

Lord, help us hold on.

AMEN!
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 225.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

The Place Where The Left and The Right Find the Same Blessing…that they are both in the wrong

Good News BibleDevotional Thought of the Day

17 If you had not helped me, LORD, I would soon have gone to the land of silence. 
18 When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady. 19 And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.  Psalm 94:17-19 CEV

The perfect example of God’s love transcending our “right” vs. “left” separations is the sacrament of reconciliation (“confession”). When a “conservative” enters that holy place he suddenly becomes a “bleeding heart liberal”, for he knows that our only hope is not truth and justice but mercy and compassion. And the “liberal” suddenly wants the authority of the Church to be infallible, dogmatic and absolute when the priest pronounces that his sins are forgiven.

I had to think through Peter Kreeft’s words this morning.

In the midst of this broken, divided world, we struggle. We look for answers, and as we do some fall to the right and some to the left. Which divides us more, causes division, and it breaks us down.

We see this today,  in the midst of the pain and anxiety that is taking over our world.

In the midst of this, Kreeft finds the place where we have to deal with our own error and our own sin to be the place of the miraculous – the conservative crying for mercy, and the liberal crying for something to depend upon that is inflexible and cannot change.

For there, they both find the mercy of God.

And they both need it.

Desperately.

And as they find the God who draws them to Himself, as He declared the mercy one doesn’t want, and the other doesn’t think they need,

There they can find unity, as the pastor or priest assures them of God’s love, as the words are  heard, and you realize that God has helped us, saving us from silence, hold us when we stumbled,

We have all sinned, we have all been narcissistic. and Jesus died for all of us.

There is where we find unity, as we are all forgiven and cleansed.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 223.

A Different Approach to Grief.

man wearing jacket standing on wooden docks leading to body of water

Photo by Wouter de Jong on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought for our Day:

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,  to sing praises to the Most High! 2 It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp, and the melody of a lyre.
4 You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done. 5 O LORD, what great works you do!  And how deep are your thoughts.  Psalm 92:1-5 NLT

Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life’s song, “He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”

As you look at the Psalms, the early ones are through of trials. You see problems with the government in chapter 2, you see the brokenness caused by sin in 22 and 51, you see dealing with grief throughout and despair throughout the Psalms..

You also see worship, and it almost always comes after a lot of grief, and pain.  I even heard one pastor say that the Psalms end in worship even as they start in the complaint.

As I meditated on this, this morning, I realized we have made a crucial error. The quote from Psalm 92 made this point, and Spurgeon hammered it home.

Grief and trial are not what precedes worship.  In the middle of them, we find worship.  Worship that realizes the faithfulness of God requires that we see Him faithful to us in the midst of suffering. If there is no challenge, no pain, no sin, or resentment to deal with, there is no need for Jesus.

God meets us there, in the midst of our brokenness, in the midst of our pain, even in the midst of guilt and shame.

It is there the grief is realized to be the bass line – and often the volume of a teenager’s stereo’s bassline. But it still resounds with praise and awe. THis is lament.

He is there, with you…

 

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

He Will Come to You!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

2  ‘I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves. 3  ‘You shall have no other gods to rival me.   Exodus 20:2-3 (NJB)

That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your God.
4 The purpose of this commandment, therefore, is to require true faith and confidence of the heart, and these fly straight to the one true God and cling to him alone. The meaning is: “See to it that you let me alone be your God, and never seek another.” In other words: “Whatever good thing you lack, look to me for it and seek it from me, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, come and cling to me. I am the one who will satisfy you and help you out of every need. Only let your heart cling to no one else.”  ( Martin Luther,  The Large Catechism)

We all have gods. We all have someone or something we cling to when all else fails. It may be a formal relationship with a god of a religion. It may be a dream for the future, when everything is “perfect”. It may be something that seems more tangible, our house, our retirement fund, a person in our lives who is nearly always there.

We all cling to, and often fight to defend our gods.

But these gods fail, our dreams don’t become our realities, our relationships are shattered by sin, our finances get plundered by recessions and other emergency needs.

The gods we cling to, that we run to in time of trouble, fail.

Many Bible translations will use the word lord in all capitals in the Bible.  This use of LORD is how they will type God’s name, in fear they will somehow misuse it. I think God understands that, and will respond whether we call him God, LORD or Yahwher (closest we can get to pronouncing His name in Hebrew)

But that is why He comes to us, why He has always forgiven those who cry out, crushed by their guilt and shame. It is why Jesus came, to reveal to us that God the Father loves us, as much as He loves Jesus, His only begotten Son.  He sends the Holy Spirit, the comforter, to be with us, to help us realize peace when everything is falling apart.

Even when those other gods fail, He will answer us. He will heal our brokenness, He will free us from guilt and shame, and restore us to a life that is meant to be spent with Him. This is His promise to you, to be your God, to be the one you can run too, and find rest and peace in, even in the midst of life’s brokenness.

Call out to Him, He has promised to answer… even if you do not believe if you do not trust in Him yet.

When Life Seems Like the Titanic, or worse.

pexels-photo-2056194

Devotional Thought for the day

I belong to God, and I worship him. Last night he sent an angel 24 to tell me, “Paul, don’t be afraid! You will stand trial before the Emperor. And because of you, God will save the lives of everyone on the ship.” 25 Cheer up! I am sure that God will do exactly what he promised. 26 But we will first be shipwrecked on some island.  Acts 27:23-26 CEV

Christians have been making Peter’s mistake ever since, trusting in Caesar and chariots and horses and treaties and nukes and antinukes rather than in the love of God, the love on the Cross. This love is infinitely more powerful than and totally in control of all the forces that crucify it, all the chariots and horsemen, even the horsemen of the apocalypse.

Noah was so shut in that no evil could reach him. Floods did but lift him heavenward, and winds did but waft him on his way. Outside of the ark all was ruin, but inside all was rest and peace. Without Christ we perish, but in Christ Jesus there is perfect safety.

We go on to say: “Let your will be done in heaven and on earth.” We say this not so that God might do what he wishes, but that we should be able to do what God wishes

I do not know how I would react, if I was one of the sailors or passengers on the ship with Paul. Yeah, we’ll be safe – all of us – but the ship will be wrecked. I imagine that even Noah was a bit anxious as the floods lifted him higher than some planes normally fly.

It is no wonder that we want to trust our weapons, our country, and our ability to fight back. For how do we find peace in times of oppression, in times where we are persecuted and attacked.

Many communities are facing this – those who find that nothing has changed in the death of George Floyd, or David Dorn. Those whose streets are filled with plywood rather than windows, those who cannot even find a home, because they are refugees. Some places where seniors dwell together still live in great fear of COVID 19. We all live in fear, and turn to something, anything for protection. Just about everyone I have met is stressed, worried, and focused on surviving today.

I wish we could all have the faith of Paul, who not only was ready for the shipwreck but to testify in front of Nero.

Please understand, we advocate for justice – even when we have to ask forgiveness for the injustice we actually committed.

At the same time, we need even more to trust in the Lord, for whether our boat is lifted by the floodwaters, or crushed against the rocks, He is with us.

We need to be aware that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us, (Eph. 1:19-20) and that power is the love of God.  That is why Kreeft makes the comment. This love is infinitely more powerful than and totally in control of all the forces that crucify it,” 

Even if crucified, even if killed, our life is there, hidden in Christ (Col. 3:1-4) and the power of death has already been defeated. That knowledge, that trust in God should empower us to work for justice, even as we do so peacefully, aware that He is stronger than the world.

So as Paul said, “Cheer up!  Just a shipwreck ahead of you, and then a trial, but God will deliver exactly what is promised!”

Your salvation and mine. ANd the presence of God in this midst of the storm…. the God who loves you.

Lord, help us to depend on you as Paul did. Even thru the shipwrecks, and the trials, through the persecutions and oppression, and even our own death. Lord may Your will be cone in our lives… and help our seeing that cheer us up.

AMEN!

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

 

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 212–213.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 75.

Why Isn’t God Helping? Something I learned as I cry out…

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Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional Thought of the Day:

Remember, life is short! Why did you empty our lives of all meaning? 48 No one can escape the power of death and the grave. Our Lord, where is the love you have always shown and that you promised so faithfully to David? Psalm 89:47-49 CEV

All this is summarized in the command in Ps. 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.” All this is what we mean by calling upon his name in service of truth and using it devoutly. Thus his name is hallowed, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.

Dearest brothers, we should turn our minds and understand not only that we call him “Father who is in heaven,” but that we add to this and say: “Our Father,” that is of those who believe, of those who have begun to be children of God, sanctified through him and restored by a birth of spiritual grace.

I have to admit I feel much like the writer of the psalms this morning.

I feel useless, I feel as if my work on earth has no impact. Does being a pastor, or a friend, or a father mean anything anymore?

THought I saw and heard it three days ago on Sunday, as people received Christ’s body and blood, that seems a century ago. The curfews certainly add to it, after the months of stay at home orders.  One doctor says it will be a year or more before life returns to normal because of the virus, another says months, another says years. The despair that results from the murder of a man and the reactions to it will take longer to heal.

And in this, I find I must cry out to God and ask “Why? Where are you?” “What the ….. is going on?”

I have to, or my heart will be crushed.

But it is the fact that I can cry out, that I realize there is someone there to hear my cries. IN crying out I use god’s name in one of the holiest ways possible. I use it and you should, for the very reason, God revealed His existence to us.

Deliver us from all of this, from all the unrighteousness, from all the injustice, from the sin. Clean us up Lord, start with me. Or just come back, as you have promised.

Even as I cry out to Him, I realize the cry is not just an act of despair, it is an act of faith. Perhaps only the weakest of faith, a hope that somehow He will answer my cry.

But even that amount of faith is miraculous amid the pain, the turmoil, the hatred I am seeing. I am crying out to my Father, the only one who can do anything about this.

That is faith.

That is the Holy Spirit at work, the Comforter breaking through the spiritual blackness, reminding me of Christ’s love.

That is why Cyprian says we need to move from Address God as “the” to “our”, why we need to realize the significance of that cry as we pray, even praying the Lord’s Prayer.

He is our Father, He is our God, and He hears our cries, and responds…

We need to cry out, to use the old word, lament. To confess how broken we are, and that we are depending on God to fix us.  We need to do this!

Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with peace and strengthen our faith, our dependence on God to bring healing to the world, bring healing to us.  AMEN!

Luther, Martin. The Lord’s Prayer,   Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 373.

Cyprian: On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer,  Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 71.

It Is Time To Pray and Sing!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

9  But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a rescuer to save them. Judges 3:9 (NLT2)

Our prayer is common and collective, and when we pray we pray not for one but for all people, because we are all one people together. The God of peace and master of concord, who taught that we should be united, wanted one to pray in this manner for all, as he himself bore all in one. The three youths shut up in the furnace of fire observed this law of prayer by joining together in harmony of prayer and agreement of spirit. The reliability of the divine Scriptures declares this; and while it teaches the manner in which they prayed, it gives an example which we should imitate in our prayers, inasmuch as we are able to be like them. It says: “Then those three sang as from one mouth and blessed the Lord” (Dan 3:51)

What is the worst thing that can happen to the Church? Not torture, murder, threats, persecution, or even the whole world conspiring to exterminate her from the face of the earth. That happened once, and the result was the greatest growth the Church has ever seen. Tertullian’s well known saying: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”1 confirms that.

I vaguely remember protest marches as a child, but I always remember the people singing as they marched. I can remember hearing them on our little television, singing Amazing Grace as they marched, and the hymn gaining power.

I remember another event, just a few years ago, where a man bent on preaching a message of hate was silenced, not physically, but by a church simply saying the Lord’s prayer together. After the 20th time through or so, the man gave up, and was peacefully escorted out of the building.

In both cases, the prayer and worship of God’s people, their active connection ot Him, made a huge difference. It calmed the storm, it helped them remember why we are here. It kept the focus, the focus.

Someone commented to me this morning that they saw the difference that having 15 people in our church service made, compared to the empty room the week before. They said I was happier, more energetic.  To be honest, with all that was going on, I didn’t realize this. I felt more drained, more stressed, more anxious, more in need of hearing the words, “and with they spirit”  Yet the prayers of Gods people helped… and I was able to lead them in worship.

This is why Kreeft can’t comment that conflict and stress are not the worst things we can encounter. For these times often draw us together in prayer, and eventually in worship – even if that worship is a lament. There is something powerful about voices joined together – voices that are communicating with God. Similarly, Cyprian notes

So let us sing, let us pray aloud. Let us lead others in singing, even if it is simply choruses of Alleluia or Amazing Grace!

(but if you are with a bunch of others – please still wear your masks!)

Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 69–70.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 207.

Upon Them All – A Pentecost Sermon from Numbers 11:24-30

Upon Them All!
Numbers 11:24- 30

May the grace of God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ reveal to us the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives daily!

 An Incredible Desire Comes True

When most believers think of Pentecost, their minds sweep to Peter, the other apostles, and the one hundred and twenty or so believers and the incredible display of tongues of fire, and the sound of the Holy Spirit testifying to the glory of God, through the believers.

Others will think about the Old Testament feast, the feast fifty days after Passover, when people were to bring evidence to God the Father of His blessing them. They were to bring the first part of the harvest and celebrate it together.

After Jesus’ ascension, Pentecost takes on a similar proof of God’s work. Jesus prophesied about it this way…

23  Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:23-24 (NLT2)

Pentecost is the proof that God’s love makes a difference in lives. It is when we realize the word God does and celebrate the new lives he has created.

Pentecost is the fulfillment of prophetic dreams!  The dream God gave Abraham, that through his seed, through one of his descendants, the world would be blessed, the dream that Jesus referenced in that passage.

Many other prophecies in the Old Testament that promised salvation, that promised restoration, that promised God hadn’t abandoned His plan, a plan for His people.

Like the desire of Moses, we heard this morning,

Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them all!

Angst over what we don’t understand

It used to bother me that this young and Joshua were upset that two other elders, not with the 70 at the tabernacle, were prophesying. After all, what right did they have to judge the two leaders?

Why would Joshua beg Moses to make them stop?

Couldn’t he recognize the work of the Holy Spirit?  The very same Holy Spirit that he had watched work through Moses?

I want to get mad at them for their immaturity, at their jealousy, at their inability to recognize God at work. I want to call it what it is, I want to judge them.

At which point, would I be any better than they are?

The two young guys judged the two old guys for speaking for God. That caused more trouble, and unless Moses had spoken up, who knows what would have happened!

We need more people like that, more people to speak up, not based on their understanding, but on God’s understanding. People who will speak as God would speak, who prophesy against sin, not to condemn, but to remind people that God will show them mercy. This is what speaking for God; it is what prophecy is all about.

That is why Moses was all for every person being able to prophesy, This is Moses wanted “that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them all!”

We can see what Moses Long to see!

This is what Pentecost is all about, the struggle to see what God is doing, the life that has come to be, because of the planting of Jesus, the seed of Abraham in the ground.

It is about us coming to God and saying, “God, you are amazing, look at what you are doing here!  Look at what your love planted, and your mercy nourished, what the Holy Spirit is creating right here in our lives.

For when our eyes are open to the work of the Holy Spirit, when we are seeing what God is doing, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, when we know that because He rose from the dead, we have arisen as well; that is when all things become new.

That my friends have been possible for every single believer for some 1990 years since the very first Pentecost – when God poured out His Holy Spirit on all believers. It happens anew every time someone is baptized, as Paul wrote to Titus,

3  Once, we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated each other. 4  But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6  He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ, our Savior. 7  Because of his grace, he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”
Titus 3:3-7 (NLT2) You have been baptized, if you haven’t – we can take care of that as soon as you get here!

So start looking for His work around you, it won’t take long.

For He has risen!

And therefore

You are risen!

And that means the Lord is with You!  AMEN!

 

Will We Worship Together? And what does that mean?

church at communion 2Passover wasn’t celebrated in the first month,l which was the usual time, because many of the priests were still unclean and unacceptable to serve, and because not everyone in Judah had come to Jerusalem for the festival. So Hezekiah, his officials, and the people agreed to celebrate Passover in the second month. 
Most of the people that came from Ephraim, West Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not made themselves clean, but they ignored God’s Law and ate the Passover lambs anyway. Hezekiah found out what they had done and prayed, “LORD God, these people are unclean according to the laws of holiness. But they are worshiping you, just as their ancestors did. So, please be kind and forgive them.” 20 The LORD answered Hezekiah’s prayer and did not punish them.2 Ch 30:1–4, 18-20  CEV

Before all else, the teacher of peace and master of unity desires that we should not make our prayer individually and alone, as whoever prays by himself prays only for himself.

In Cyprian’s words about the Lord’s Prayer, we find described a call to pray together. Not just physically together, but really together.  To pray with one heart and one mind.

It was the reason for Passover being delayed that year so that all could pray together. That those who were unclean, those damaged by sin could deal with it, according to God’s provision.  According to how God laid out one could become cleansed of sin.

They, as a people, needed to pray together, they needed to worship together, they needed to realize that they lived in the presence of God, who so desperately wanted to care for them.

But they needed to do it together.

I will repeat myself, not just together physically, but together spiritually, emotionally, cognitively.

We need this today as well. Isolation is oppressive, we grow more and more distant apart. We become more protective of what belongs to me and less aware of each other, and each other’s needs. Cyprian describes that well, as he talks about only praying for oneself.

That needs to stop.

We need to be praying for everyone.  Everyone in our church, everyone in our community, everyone we don’t feel like praying for.

So as we come together, let us pray that the Lord unite His church and the communities in which it dwells. May the church help the community to learn, not only how to find reconciliation, but how to love.

Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 69.

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